Looking it up today in preparation for today’s reading, I found the following:
Have you been in a situation where you have lamented over something? Have you been in a situation where things seemed so bad that you were weeping, wailing, crying, sobbing, moaning, grieving, mourning over it? Do remember what it took to get you to that point? Do you remember how bad or how big it had to get to get you to that point? Do you remember how long it took? Take a look around you. Consider what is going on. Do you think it makes God’s heart happy? Do you think it grieves God’s heart? What can we do? What can we say? What difference can we step up and make to day? Before it is too late…Will you share the hope that is within you? Will you point people to the way out? Will you help others get turned back around in the right direction? Will you?
Let’s take a look at today’s reading from the book of Lamentations…
The Sorrows of Jerusalem1How lonely lies Jerusalem, once so full of people! Once honored by the world, she is now like a widow; The noblest of cities has fallen into slavery. 2All night long she cries; tears run down her cheeks. Of all her former friends, not one is left to comfort her. Her allies have betrayed her and are all against her now. 3Judah’s people are helpless slaves, forced away from home. They live in other lands, with no place to call their own—Surrounded by enemies, with no way to escape. 4No one comes to the Temple now to worship on the holy days. The young women who sang there suffer, and the priests can only groan. The city gates stand empty, and Zion is in agony. 5Her enemies succeeded; they hold her in their power. The Lord has made her suffer for all her many sins; Her children have been captured and taken away. 6The splendor of Jerusalem is a thing of the past. Her leaders are like deer that are weak from hunger, Whose strength is almost gone as they flee from the hunters. 7A lonely ruin now, Jerusalem recalls her ancient splendor. When she fell to the enemy, there was no one to help her; Her conquerors laughed at her downfall. 8Her honor is gone; she is naked and held in contempt. She groans and hides her face in shame. Jerusalem made herself filthy with terrible sin. 9Her uncleanness was easily seen, but she showed no concern for her fate. Her downfall was terrible; no one can comfort her. Her enemies have won, and she cries to the Lord for mercy. 10The enemies robbed her of all her treasures. She saw them enter the Temple itself, Where the Lord had forbidden Gentiles to go. 11Her people groan as they look for something to eat; They exchange their treasures for food to keep themselves alive. “Look at me, Lord,” the city cries; “see me in my misery.” 12“Look at me!” she cries to everyone who passes by. “No one has ever had pain like mine, Pain that the Lord brought on me in the time of his anger. 13“He sent fire from above, a fire that burned inside me. He set a trap for me and brought me to the ground. Then he abandoned me and left me in constant pain. 14“He took note of all my sins and tied them all together; He hung them around my neck, and I grew weak beneath the weight. The Lord gave me to my foes, and I was helpless against them. 15“The Lord laughed at all my strongest soldiers; He sent an army to destroy my young men. He crushed my people like grapes in a wine press. 16“That is why my eyes are overflowing with tears. No one can comfort me; no one can give me courage. The enemy has conquered me; my people have nothing left. 17“I stretch out my hands, but no one will help me. The Lord has called enemies against me from every side; They treat me like some filthy thing. 18“But the Lord is just, for I have disobeyed him. Listen to me, people everywhere; look at me in my pain. My young men and women have been taken away captive. 19“I called to my allies, but they refused to help me. The priests and the leaders died in the city streets, Looking for food to keep themselves alive. 20“Look, O Lord, at my agony, at the anguish of my soul! My heart is broken in sorrow for my sins. There is murder in the streets; even indoors there is death. 21“Listen to my groans; there is no one to comfort me. My enemies are glad that you brought disaster on me. Bring the day you promised; make my enemies suffer as I do. 22“Condemn them for all their wickedness; Punish them as you punished me for my sins. I groan in misery, and I am sick at heart.”–from Lamentations 1
The Lord’s Punishment of Jerusalem1The Lord in his anger has covered Zion with darkness. Its heavenly splendor he has turned into ruins. On the day of his anger he abandoned even his Temple. 2The Lord destroyed without mercy every village in Judah And tore down the forts that defended the land. He brought disgrace on the kingdom and its rulers. 3In his fury he shattered the strength of Israel; He refused to help us when the enemy came. He raged against us like fire, destroying everything. 4He aimed his arrows at us like an enemy; He killed all those who were our joy and delight. Here in Jerusalem we felt his burning anger. 5Like an enemy, the Lord has destroyed Israel; He has left her forts and palaces in ruins. He has brought on the people of Judah unending sorrow. 6He smashed to pieces the Temple where we worshiped him; He has put an end to holy days and Sabbaths. King and priest alike have felt the force of his anger. 7The Lord rejected his altar and deserted his holy Temple; He allowed the enemy to tear down its walls. They shouted in victory where once we had worshiped in joy. 8The Lord was determined that the walls of Zion should fall; He measured them off to make sure of total destruction. The towers and walls now lie in ruins together. 9The gates lie buried in rubble, their bars smashed to pieces. The king and the noblemen now are in exile. The Law is no longer taught, and the prophets have no visions from the Lord. 10Jerusalem’s old men sit on the ground in silence, With dust on their heads and sackcloth on their bodies. Young women bow their heads to the ground. 11My eyes are worn out with weeping; my soul is in anguish. I am exhausted with grief at the destruction of my people. Children and babies are fainting in the streets of the city. 12Hungry and thirsty, they cry to their mothers; They fall in the streets as though they were wounded, And slowly die in their mothers’ arms. 13O Jerusalem, beloved Jerusalem, what can I say? How can I comfort you? No one has ever suffered like this. Your disaster is boundless as the ocean; there is no possible hope. 14Your prophets had nothing to tell you but lies; Their preaching deceived you by never exposing your sin. They made you think you did not need to repent. 15People passing by the city look at you in scorn. They shake their heads and laugh at Jerusalem’s ruins: “Is this that lovely city? Is this the pride of the world?” 16All your enemies mock you and glare at you with hate. They curl their lips and sneer, “We have destroyed it! This is the day we have waited for!” 17The Lord has finally done what he threatened to do: He has destroyed us without mercy, as he warned us long ago. He gave our enemies victory, gave them joy at our downfall. 18O Jerusalem, let your very walls cry out to the Lord! Let your tears flow like rivers night and day; Wear yourself out with weeping and grief 19All through the night get up again and again to cry out to the Lord; Pour out your heart and beg him for mercy on your children—Children starving to death on every street corner! 20Look, O Lord! Why are you punishing us like this? Women are eating the bodies of the children they loved! Priests and prophets are being killed in the Temple itself 21Young and old alike lie dead in the streets, Young men and women, killed by enemy swords. You slaughtered them without mercy on the day of your anger. 22You invited my enemies to hold a carnival of terror all around me, And no one could escape on that day of your anger. They murdered my children, whom I had raised and loved.–from Lamentations 2
Punishment, Repentance, and Hope1I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God. 2He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness 3And beat me again and again with merciless blows. 4He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones. 5He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish. 6He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death. 7He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape. 8I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen; 9I stagger as I walk; stone walls block me wherever I turn. 10He waited for me like a bear; he pounced on me like a lion. 11He chased me off the road, tore me to pieces, and left me. 12He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows. 13He shot his arrows deep into my body. 14People laugh at me all day long; I am a joke to them all. 15Bitter suffering is all he has given me for food and drink. 16He rubbed my face in the ground and broke my teeth on rocks. 17I have forgotten what health and peace and happiness are. 18I do not have much longer to live; my hope in the Lord is gone. 19The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. 20I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. 21Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: 22The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, 23Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. 24The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. 25The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, 26So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—27And it is best to learn this patience in our youth. 28When we suffer, we should sit alone in silent patience; 29We should bow in submission, for there may still be hope. 30Though beaten and insulted, we should accept it all. 31The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever. 32He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong. 33He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain. 34The Lord knows when our spirits are crushed in prison; 35He knows when we are denied the rights he gave us; 36When justice is perverted in court, he knows. 37The will of the Lord alone is always carried out. 38Good and evil alike take place at his command. 39Why should we ever complain when we are punished for our sin? 40Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord. 41Let us open our hearts to God in heaven and pray, 42“We have sinned and rebelled, and you, O Lord, have not forgiven us. 43“You pursued us and killed us; your mercy was hidden by your anger, 44By a cloud of fury too thick for our prayers to get through. 45You have made us the garbage dump of the world. 46“We are insulted and mocked by all our enemies. 47We have been through disaster and ruin; we live in danger and fear. 48My eyes flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people. 49“My tears will pour out in a ceaseless stream 50Until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees us. 51My heart is grieved when I see what has happened to the women of the city. 52“I was trapped like a bird by enemies who had no cause to hate me. 53They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone. 54Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near. 55“From the bottom of the pit, O Lord, I cried out to you, 56And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard. 57You answered me and told me not to be afraid. 58“You came to my rescue, Lord, and saved my life. 59Judge in my favor; you know the wrongs done against me. 60You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me. 61“You have heard them insult me, O Lord; you know all their plots. 62All day long they talk about me and make their plans. 63From morning till night they make fun of me. 64“Punish them for what they have done, O Lord; 65Curse them and fill them with despair! 66Hunt them down and wipe them off the earth!”–from Lamentations 3